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UI professor secures $2.7 million grant

Staff Writer | May 30, 2020 1:00 AM

Amador to lead charge to assist math coaches in rural school districts

COEUR d’ALENE — University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene faculty member Julie Amador has secured a $2.7 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to establish and study online professional development for math coaches in rural school districts.

Amador will lead the collaboration between the U of I and New York's University of Rochester. This team spent the past four years researching how to provide professional support for middle school teachers in rural areas.

“I am excited to be able to grow this opportunity to mathematics coaches, particularly during this time when there is such a need for online course delivery,” said Amador, who is an associate professor in curriculum and instruction at the U of I and director of the Region 1 Idaho Regional Mathematics Center.

The award is through NSF Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12), a program that provides grants to enhance education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) studies and computer science through research and development.

Research will include cohorts of rural math coaches recruited from across the U.S. In four years, coaches will participate in online courses, one-on-one interactions with mentors and study video of mathematics teaching to better support educators in rural areas.

“Educators in rural areas often lack access to people who teach similar subjects, grade levels or have similar responsibilities,” Amador said. “This work will allow mathematics coaches to meet others in similar teaching situations and form connections from which they can learn.”

The goal of the research is to create a model for virtual professional development that can replicated across the U.S. and beyond.

U of I Associate Vice President/Center Executive Officer for North Idaho Charles Buck said they are thrilled with the recognition this large award brings to the great work Amador has been doing for U of I.

"Her efforts with the Regional Math Resource Center demonstrate a keen understanding for the challenges of advancing mathematics education in rural communities," Buck said. "More than ever, mathematics skills are necessary for success in the tech-based, 21st-century economy. Because Julie’s work is devoted to serving local math teachers in the region, she and her small but mighty team recognize that resources to support math instruction are frequently missing in rural schools. This Discovery Research PreK-12 award will bring effective collaboration to math coaches in North Idaho, across the state and nationwide."